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New Zealand financial management reform: organizational changes in secondary schools focusing on structure, resourcing, budgeting, and reporting

School reform associated with Tomorrow’s Schools was ostensibly mobilised to engender various changes, the major ones being changes in financial management and accounting practices in schools. The reform sought, on the face of it, to give greater autonomy to the local administrators and, at the same time, impose on them a much wider accountability network. Its apparent mission was the inculcation of a culture of ‘economic efficiency’ and an associated traditional financial accounting measurement culture: forces seemingly alien to schools. This study attempts to provide an insight into changes in the above practices engendered by the reforms - in particular, financial and accounting related changes associated with structure, resourcing, budgeting and reporting. It seeks to explore the changes and responses from case studies in four schools in the Waikato region. The case studies are supported by a questionnaire survey, the aim of which is to gain some preliminary insights for the subsequent, more in-depth case studies. In interpreting such empirical data, I discuss and analyse the various changes and the impacts (or issues) arising from the reform. The thesis is consistent with a naturalistic and interpretive perspective which provides the basis for the description of the responses to the changes in the four technologies. It also pursues themes and raises questions consistent with critical theoretical analysis of organizational change. Among the findings were the different impacts of the reform upon the schools, which arose mainly from the differences in their socio-economic backgrounds. There were also several similarities, for example, while the changes did have a significant impact upon the various structures and practices in the schools studied, many of the changes were absorbed by a small group consisting mainly of the administrative group, leaving the teachers to carry on undisturbed. Finally, I also discuss the implications of the reform upon the future of the schools in terms of economic, social and cultural issues and their possible impacts upon the educational objectives.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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